Dear friends...

Dear friends...

Dear friends,

On January 14, 2013, I launched a blog called Learning by Accident on and wrote: This blog is dedicated to caregivers — and to the loved ones who let us care for them, for their fortitude and the life lessons they teach us, and today, I’m letting you know that I am going to move on. I’m happy and sad all at once because I’ll be focusing on my day-to-day life and new writing projects, but I’ll miss all of you terribly.

Since I first worked at Brainline, I have blogged weekly, and then monthly, and eventually I took on the job of Editor, BrainLine Blogs, a position that allowed me to meet and interact with some of the most caring, generous, and enlightened professionals, survivors, and caregivers I have ever met in my life.

Back in 2002, when my husband sustained his severe TBI, I didn’t know of another wife in my situation and had no one to talk to that I thought vaguely understood my challenges. Hugh was “my person,” and he was the one I wanted to lean on for comfort, but he was in the ICU, in the acute brain rehab, in and out of surgery, and in a fog for nearly a year. When the fog lifted, I realized there was no going back to the way things were. Ever. And I bled on the page. I wrote out my grief every day—for years.

I first learned about at a brain injury conference when I agreed to a videotaped interview for the site, and shortly after that interview, I was offered a chance to be their first regular blogger. Brainline gave me a soft landing pad to put my feelings, a safe place to express my hopes and fears, and none of it would work unless I told the raw truth.

The first time I sent a post out into the blogosphere, I worried about how I sounded, who I might offend, who might misunderstand me—in short, I wondered, why am I spilling my guts on paper for everyone to see? I was even once told that it might be better if I “suffered in silence.” Why was I doing this?

The answer popped up on my screen immediately. I received long comments, other shared stories, and many expressions of thanks for making this injury visible. The comments I heard back showed that thousands of people were yearning for connection with someone who knew their level of pain, heartbreak, isolation, loss, and brokenness.

Seventeen years ago, my husband nearly died, and I felt like I would, too, but we lived to tell a story. Hugh became my full partner in sharing, never censoring what I said, and for that, I’ll always be grateful because writing for BrainLine was the work of my life. It opened communication lines within my family; opened many doors to meaningful friendships, and helped us understand that what we thought was dysfunction was a natural reaction to an unnatural event.

Through BrainLine’s research articles, clinical and professional posts, I learned about the workings of the brain and about therapies that might help with healing, but more importantly, I learned how much heart it takes to rise above this injury from the people who have lived with it.

Hope—love—tenacity—go for it—get mad, let yourself be sad—but don’t let the madness or sadness swallow you. These were repeated themes, said in a thousand ways for a thousand reasons. These are the messages we need to hear again and again. And then there are the deeper messages, each exquisitely told by individuals facing unimaginable challenges.

If BrainLine is anything, it is a community. It’s a community that you can visit. There are voices here worth hearing. There is knowledge here worth knowing. There are resources here worth investigating.

Hugh and I are in our sixties now. We are still married and figuring out this life of ours. July 1st will mark our 41st wedding anniversary. It’s time for us to start a new chapter that is not centered on illness and injury. We take care of each other now, and that is how it should be.

To Noel, Christian, Kelly, and Victoria, thank you for taking me in. To all of our past and present regular bloggers: David Grant, Abby Maslin, Janna Hockenjos, Nicole Bingaman, and Norma Myers, I am in awe of your strength and ability to give of yourselves so freely. To all of our guest bloggers (and my guru, Mike Strand), thank you! Every story you have shared has been a gift, and every one was received.

I will hold BrainLine close, and I’ll be watching for all the goodness you will continue to put out into this hurting world.

With love,

Rosemary Rawlins

Comments (8)

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Dear Rosemary,
As I was reading your blog, interestingly enough my parents too were married on July 1st, and instead of celebrating their 45th anniversary on a cruise somewhere like most happy couples do, they celebrated at home, where my dad is bed bound due to severe TBI, and my mom who is in her mid 60s the only person left to care for him. He is about 10 months post TBI, is not able to walk despite countless therapies, no one can still figure out why he is not able to walk, because his spine is fine and limbs move.
I am reading many blogs where accidents happened and people's lives were turned upside down due to the choices or even unforeseen events that lead to tragic ends. But my dad's TBI caused by him collapsing in the street. He was a healthy and fit 66 years old, but hours collapsed. His heart rate was 200s when he was taken to the hospital. Everyone was amazed how someone can still live with this heart rate at 200s without cardiac arrest or heart attacks. But he didn't have heart attack. I am very far away from him, but I can tell that the once a strong, independent, full of life person, became a vulnerable, frail and dependent person whose life including his wife's and three children's lives are utterly altered.
Soon to be 11 month post TBI, my mom as she became the most caring person in the world for my dad, still hopes for that bright sun to shine upon my dad, who can start walking. Perhaps I am naive to think that the sun is still out there somewhere and hasn't reached to him yet, but if you do catch the glimpse of that sun, please send it my dad's way.

Thank you so very much. My wife Julie and I followed you, read your book and many posts as I also am a Thrivor of a TBI on a bicycle.
Thank you,
Bob & Julie

It is obvious how much you mean to so many. So privileged to be your friend.

Rosemary, thank you for allowing me to see and imagine more clearly what my wife must have been going through. That was a gift beyond recompense.

All my love and best wishes to the both of you. Through tour description of Hugh's progress and setbacks, I want you to let him know he has my deepest respect. I know his demons, for many are mine.

Be Well.

Thank you, Mike! I've learned so much from you, too!

Thank you, Rosemary, for the encouragement you have been to everyone in this community. I've traveled a parallel life since a near fatal car accident in 2000 and no one to offer what we do to each other today. So I researched my own recovery and became a non profit in 2010 and in Chicken Soup for the Soul in 2013 and more publishing followed. Many talks and support groups later.. we continue to get the best recovery resources from each other! Enjoy your well deserved next chapter! Much love, hugs and gratitude for your generous heart.

What a blessing the years of sharing, growing, nurturing, healing have been I'm sure. I've known you the last few years in our book club and threw myself into your book about this journey. A dear friend wrote a similar blog about traumatic brain injury from a bike accident, but her outcome was her husband's healing came in the arms of his Savior. Her blog is now becoming a book and I rejoice she found her voice, strength, stages of healing through her writing too. Thank you Rosemary, for the years you've shared with the blog and for all that's ahead in your newest stage of life!

Best of luck to you I’ve followed your journeys after reading your book. I worked with Hugh at James River in the 90’s
Your family has been very inspirational